Does minimalism work when you have little kids?
You juggle with toys, grocery bags, a ringing phone, and a cranky toddler and rummage through your purse for that elusive house key! Has it happened to you and did the thought cross your mind that you need to have less stuff to deal with? Well, there is minimalism.
Minimalism must not be confused with frugal or ascetic living. You do not need to grow your food or sleep on a hemp mattress. Though the definitions of being a minimalist can range from owning just hundred items to keeping things simple to one who values themselves more than material things and making decisions based on what you need instead of getting everything you want. Things do not have to be cheap. Everyone interprets it their way.
What is minimalism?
One definition sums it up as a tool to rid oneself of the clutter in one’s life and remove all excess in favor of focusing on what’s important. So in essence, minimalism is about simplifying life and traveling lightly through this world and life itself. Reduce the baggage and the clutter so you can see your loved and essential things in life clearly and spend more time with those.
Who can be minimalist?
Anyone! Everyone! Those who choose to be! You can own the most expensive accessories or make do with the most frugal ones. You can live off the grid or right in the middle of the bright lights of the city. All that matters is that you get rid of the excess in your life do not pile up materials. One man’s pile could be another man’s minimal, but it is self-regulated, and no one needs to certify how you should practice minimalism. Some follow the 100 item rule and will discard one item before getting another new one. But that again is a personal choice, and not everyone is the same.
Why does one want to be a minimalist?
With the number of people on the planet exceeding all previous numbers and technology bringing us to a point where we are continually running to keep standing, trying to make sense out of the clutter, many people want a simpler life. It does not mean cutting themselves away from the world or becoming an ascetic. Minimalists just feel that fewer but more useful or better quality items that can be used for a more extended period serve their own as well as the interests of the planet. They may just want to have fewer distractions and focus on what seems important to them.
What are the benefits of minimalism?
Clutter is always hard to cut through. So whether the minimalism is about just clearing clutter, clearing up your mind, buying better quality over quantity or living with 100 items only, there is less clutter.
More clarity – With less material things to take care of, there is more clarity and a better understanding of what is important.
Simplifies life – Too many choices sometimes lead to confusion and chaos. Decluttering simplifies life. Imagine picking up twenty toys scattered about the room instead of just a few toys that your child can play with in different ways. Not only does the child have to choose from fewer (and safe) options, but you also have to ensure only fewer toys are put away at the end of the day.
Saves time – Imagine if you had fewer things to dust, clean, and put away. Would that save you time? Of course, it would save time that you can then use to play with your child, converse with a friend, talk to your neighbor or exercise.
More productivity – Yes, less clutter equals more productivity. Whether it is clutter in your mind or your spaces, removing them will help boost productivity.
Pursue a passion- if you have fewer things to take care of and keep safe and can save time and energy, what would you do with it? Paint, dance, write, travel, and meet friends – the possibilities increase immensely when we have more resources to spare. All we need to do is give up somethings, which might be actually holding us back.
Discover more – With spare time, energy, and resources, we can explore more and discover more. What have you been missing out on?
You leave a better planet for your kids – Conscious and mindful consumption will automatically mean that you leave a better planet for the coming generations. When you buy less or do it in an eco-friendly way, the planet has less lead and toxins and non-recyclable materials in the environment.
Is minimalism a difficult path?
Like all new philosophies that require you to adopt a different approach and rethink your choices, it takes time, effort, energy, and builds up gradually. It is about making conscious choices every time, evaluating the collective impact from time to time, and making sure you adjust for it. There are ways to make it easier on yourself.
All or nothing need not apply - Diving into anything wholeheartedly is good, but it cannot be all or nothing. If you find yourself slipping up, just catch yourself, correct course and carry on.
Live consciously – Being aware of what you are doing, using, buying; your lifestyle choices should be made deliberately. Can you source used books from friends and family for your child to enjoy? Maybe exchange toys so that every child has ‘new’ toys. Maybe buy toys that transcend different age groups.
Quality over quantity. Cheap plastic toys, for instance, maybe more readily available today, but they land up in landfills. A good quality wooden toy can be passed on among friends, cousins, younger siblings, and even your kids. We love using cradles and palnaas that have been passed on generations, don’t we? Buy things that will last many years if not generations invest in quality goods.
Brutal honesty – Be very honest with yourself. Do you really need that extra pair of jeans? You may wish to buy a new pair but then discard the older one.
Long term over the short term. A steel straw that you can reuse is expensive, but you need a limited number of straws. Stamps and printing block toys can incite imagination in the very young, but teenagers love them too!
Give yourself time – Zero to 100 may be just a speed that cars can attain, but for humans, slow and steady wins the race. Do not expect it to happen overnight. Take time and let everyone be on the same page.
How can you adopt minimalism?
Examine and evaluate –One more bag, one more vase, one more pair of stylish black shoes, or a cute, cuddly teddy bear all may have looked great when you bought them, but do you have use for them? Examine all items closely and evaluate the value in your life. If you do not use it, then it is probably best removed – either into a discard and donation pile or to be shared with someone else. An open-ended toy for your child will ensure they will play with it fora long time in many different ways.
Think before we get it home - We all often buy things on a whim and then think of what to do with them. Ever buy something on a sale to give away as a gift and forget about where it is stored? You are not alone. So in a bid to save money, we end up having gifts that never get given and lie in a corner. The more we do this, the more likely we are to add clutter.
Invest in durable items – Quality items and classics can last a lifetime. A chess set made with wood and crafted finely is not just a child’s toy, but something that the entire family can get uses from. It can also be with you for a lifetime and spark a lovely childhood memory.
Create a space for everything – If you keep everything where it belongs, there will be less space for clutter. Be it shoes or clothes or books, and if everything has a space, you will have to discard something to make space for something new. This helps keep clutter at bay.
Experiences over items – Go to a concert, take your kids on a safari, take a trip, go on a trek, go for a walk – there are several ways to spend time and have fun without accumulating more stuff. Your child could build new things with blocks if you engage along with them each day instead of buying a new cheap toy to entertain them.
Create a routine – It might sound boring, and we are not saying you jettison spontaneity but try and stick to a routine. We live with many distractions today, and it is essential to create a routine to remove that clutter so we can stay focused. Make sure the dishes are put away at night, so your morning is clutter-free. (Yes, yes, minimalism is also about reducing clutter in your mind and chaos in your day)
However, labels can be restricting. So you can adopt the minimalism you wish to practice. You must feel comfortable and not forced in any way to adopt all these ideas. Each person can decide how much of a minimalist lifestyle they want to lead. It can be done in stages too. There are books, podcasts, and videos that explain how you can adopt a minimalist lifestyle that suits you. Tell us what you would like to hear about minimalism, and we can try and bring it to you.